Last weekend in the sermon at Christian Life Center we considered the three sons of Noah; Shem, Ham and Japeth. With a little bit of ancestry.com kinds of thinking, we can conclude that these three men are the genetic forefathers of all of us. How senseless it is to look at the OUTSIDE of people, and judge them; eventually, we’re related!
Outward appearances can be deceiving. And when I speak of outward appearances, I’m thinking of more than just the difference in the color of our skin.
I was reminded of this in a lighthearted way just this past week. On my day off, I invited one of the campus pastors on our staff to join me in doing some fishing using my kayaks (I have one my family gave me as a graduation gift for my doctorate degree…the second I bought as my “friends and family” kayak…to take others along).
We had a great time on a local lake, but didn’t catch any fish. Since he is fairly new to town, I treated him to lunch at a local Italian treasure: FLYING PIZZA of Dayton. (If you’re ever in town, it’s worth the stop downtown on Main street!). Anyway, as we got out of my truck, I became aware of how I was dressed.
When I’m fishing, I don’t dress up (the fish don’t care), and when I’m kayaking, I tend to wear old clothes I don’t mind getting wet (voice of experience). Well, last Friday, I wore old swimming trunks (sort of a brown, Hawaiian look), a “Happy, Happy, Happy” Duck Dynasty ball cap a friend of mine gave me, and a Cleveland Browns T-shirt that simply says “Just Once Before I Die!” (Sadly, Browns fans will get that joke).
As I glanced at my reflection in the window of my truck I also remembered that I hadn’t shaved yet that day. I laughed and told Matt, “I look like a homeless guy!” He laughed, didn’t disagree…and then suggested that he try to pass me off as such, and see if the restaurant would give me a free slice of pizza.
We both laughed, and halfway into the second sentence of his story, I had to laugh and tell the truth…I wasn’t homeless! It appears it was funnier to us than the guy behind the counter.
Curiously, I ate lunch, feeling self conscious. Compared to the businessmen in suits, and casual local patrons, I felt like to them, I probably WAS a homeless guy! I must say, it wasn’t the most comfortable pizza I’ve ever eaten.(I did make a note to self…on future kayak trips, don’t dress like the only thing you’ll see is the river!)
My experience got me thinking: how many people feel outwardly “noticed” in an uncomfortable way, but cant’ just rationalize “This isn’t really how I look.” How many people do we see that are unlike us on the outside, and we make evaluations about the kind of person they are? Perhaps their outward difference is the chair they are confined to, dependent on wheels to propel them forward. Maybe their skin is a different color, their age far from our own, the list goes on.
I imagine that Jesus looked beyond externals, and noticed the heart people had. No wonder He was a “people magnet!” Let’s resolve to do the same. This week, look at people…as people; NOT just as external characteristics. Ask yourself, “I wonder who is inside what I see?” Finally, with this greater sensitivity, do as Jesus commanded us, and treat others as you would like to be treated. Do so, regardless of what they look like!